The Hotel Del and Coronado Golf Course are quintessential San Diego experiences.
the attractions and museums in Bal- boa Park. Also close by are Petco Park, where the San Diego Padres play, and the centerpiece of San Diego’s nightlife, the Gaslamp Quarter.
LA COSTA RESORT & SPA If you haven’t been to La Costa ($120-$140, lacosta.com) in the last decade, trust us, it’s changed dramati- cally for the better. In fact, the resort is nearly unrecognizable from before; transformed from aging rooms and an odd salmon color to a Spanish modern motif with first-class everything. The two golf courses are still classic
layouts, and the North Course (now called the Champions) underwent a $10 million renovation in the past year to provide some interesting new looks and better drainage on a course notorious for being soggy.
San Diego County has historic municipal courses, high-end resorts that offer the finest service and amenities.
Tod Leonard covers golf for the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The par-3 16th on the Champions is the hole at which Tiger Woods nearly knocked down the pin to beat Tom Lehman in the 1997 Mercedes Cham- pionship playoff. The Champions is considerably tougher than it used to be, so the South is a nice option for a more leisurely round. La Costa also has added “family” forward tees that can make the experi- ence more fun for newer golfers along with a mini water park in its pool area.
OFF THE COURSE: Carlsbad has its
own nice beaches and the prime attrac- tion for families in the area is Legoland amusement park, where NCGA mem- bers now receive a discount as a new member benefit.
ENCINITAS RANCH For pure fun, with cool breezes and distant ocean views as the bonus, there probably isn’t a better value in San Di- ego, besides Coronado, than Encinitas Ranch ($81-$103, jcgolf.com). Built on the former site of acres of
flower fields, the JC Resorts course is so playable and fair that higher handicap- pers can gun for their career low while still feeling like they’re being challenged. Encinitas’ most entertaining holes
are short par 4s that are made challeng- ing by tricky angles. This is where the locals flocked to when Torrey Pines got expensive, so it’s busy. Make reserva- tions well in advance. OFF THE COURSE: The beach towns of Encinitas and Leucadia boast a wide variety of shopping and dining expe- riences, from funky to upscale. The Encinitas Seaside Bazaar features artsy handmade goods, while Moonlight Beach is the most popular in North County for families because of excellent surf conditions and a snack bar right on the beach.